Welcome‎ > ‎

Endurance Training

Endurance training is designed to improve stamina, endurance, and overall performance. Athletes use it while they prepare for both long and short events, ranging from iron man events to sculling. People who are not athletes may utilize endurance training as a method to get fit. It is advisable to undertake such training under the advice of a coach or personal trainer.


As endurance training progresses, the body actually undergoes physiological changes. The training conditions the heart and lungs, slowing the heart rate, increasing oxygen exchange in the lungs, and upping cardiac output. People in endurance training also produce more red blood cells, and have elevated levels of some enzymes in their muscles. The blood flow to skeletal muscle is increased, as is the capillarization in the muscle bed, meaning that the network of blood vessels is more extensive.


This form of training often relies on aerobic exercise and lots of hard cardiovascular exercise. Exercises vary from day to day, and can include a variety of activities. It may be paired with stretching regimens to keep the body toned and flexible, and to allow plenty of time to warm up and cool down so that the body is not injured.



A personal trainer or coach can help develop an endurance training program which is suited to a particular athlete and sport. The program will vary in intensity at various points to keep the athlete in condition without causing damage or injury. As the program proceeds, the athlete's body will be able to use energy more efficiently and to increase the delivery of usable energy to the muscles when it is needed.


Some of the changes associated with endurance training would be viewed as signs of ill health in people who are not in athletic training, which is something to be aware of. When visiting a doctor, an athlete in training should make sure that the doctor knows about the kind of training the athlete does, and that the athlete's resting heart rate is normally lower than that of the average population. Otherwise, a doctor may think that the athlete has an underlying muscle problem.


People who have been injured should not plunge back into an endurance training program, although it is worth noting that people in good physical condition often recover more quickly from injuries. A doctor should be consulted before resuming activity after an injury, and adjustments may need to be made to a training plan to accommodate healing.


The types of endurance are aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, speed endurance and strength endurance. A sound basis of aerobic endurance is fundamental for all events.


The chart provided below estimates anaerobic and aerobic energy contribution during selected periods of maximal exercise (95% effort).




% Aerobic

% Anaerobic

0-10 seconds



0-15 seconds



0-20 seconds



0-30 seconds



0-45 seconds



0-60 seconds



0-75 seconds



0-90 seconds



0-120 seconds



0-180 seconds



0-240 seconds






Aerobic Endurance:


 During aerobic (with oxygen) work, the body is working at a level that the demands for oxygen and fuel can be meet by the body's intake. The only waste products formed are carbon dioxide and water which are removed by sweating and breathing.




Aerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:


•Short aerobic - 2 minutes to 8 minutes (lactic/aerobic)

•Medium aerobic - 8 minutes to 30 minutes (mainly aerobic)

•Long aerobic - 30 minutes + (aerobic)




Aerobic endurance is developed using continuous and interval running.


•Continuous duration runs to improve maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max)

•Interval training to improve the heart as a muscular pump




Aerobic threshold:


The aerobic threshold, point at which anaerobic energy pathways start to operate, is around 65% of maximum heart rate. This is approximately 40 beats lower than the anaerobic threshold.




Anaerobic endurance:


During anaerobic (without oxygen) work, involving maximum effort, the body is working so hard that the demands for oxygen and fuel exceed the rate of supply and the muscles have to rely on the stored reserves of fuel. The muscles, being starved of oxygen, take the body into a state known as oxygen debt and lactic starts to accumulate in the muscles. This point is known as the lactic threshold or anaerobic threshold or onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA). Activity will not be resumed until the lactic acid is removed and the oxygen debt repaid.


The body can resume limited activity after a small proportion of the oxygen debt has been repaid. Since lactic acid is produced, the correct term for this pathway is lactic anaerobic energy pathway.


The alactic anaerobic pathway is when the body is working anaerobically but without the production of lactic acid. This pathway depends on the fuel stored in the muscle which lasts for approximately 4 seconds at maximum effort.




Anaerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:


•Short anaerobic - less than 25 seconds (mainly alactic)

•Medium anaerobic - 25 seconds to 60 seconds (mainly lactic)

•Long anaerobic - 60 seconds to 120 seconds (lactic +aerobic)


Anaerobic endurance can be developed by using repetition methods of high intensity work with limited recovery.




Anaerobic threshold:


The anaerobic threshold, the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulates in the muscles, is considered to be somewhere between 80% and 90% of your maximum heart rate and is approximately 40 beats higher than the aerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold can be determined with anaerobic threshold testing.




Speed endurance:


Speed endurance is used to develop the co-ordination of muscle contraction. Repetition methods are used with a high number of sets, low number of repetitions per set and intensity greater than 85% with distances covered from 60% to 120% of racing distance. Competition and time trials can be used in the development of speed endurance.



Strength endurance is used to develop the athlete's capacity to maintain the quality of their muscles' contractile force. All athletes need to develop a basic level of strength endurance. Examples of activities to develop strength endurance are - circuit training, weight training, hill running, harness running, Fartlek etc.




Effect on the heart:


As an endurance athlete, you will develop an athlete's heart which is very different to the non-athlete’s heart. You will have:

•Bradycardia - Low resting pulse rate of under 50 bpm

•ECG shows ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle wall)

•X-ray reveals an enlarged heart

•Blood tests shows raised muscle enzymes


The above for the average person (non- athlete) indicate a probable heart block, hypertension, heart failure, a recent myocardial infarct or cardiomyopathy. Should you need to go to a hospital or see your doctor, you should inform them that you are an endurance athlete.